The US Senate will consider a new sanctions package against Iran on Thursday, in which oil and economic embargos will be considered in order to force Iran to abandon its nuclear development program.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid will introduce the new legislation, to strength penalties signed into law by President Barack Obama in December. The new legislation would close loopholes enabling trading with Iranian banks and oil and tanker companies which exist in the December legislation. It will also include sanctions on companies supplying telecommunications equipment used to monitor opposition.
According to Reuters, the bill is a revised version of one passed in February by the Senate Banking Committee and has the support of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). That bill was brought before the Senate in March, but failed to receive a “unanimous consent” voice vote because some senators sought amdnemdnets which would sanction companies that insure trade with Iran.
On May 23, Tehran is set to resume nuclear program-related talks with representatives from the UN Security Council – US, Britain, China, France, Russia – and Germany which began on April 14.
In the meantime, Iran continues to funnel illegal weapons to Syria to assist Syrian President Bashar Assad in his crackdown on opposition in his country, according to a report on Wednesday by the Associated Press.
An anonymous UN Security Council diplomat identified at least two new illegal arms shipments to Syria, with a possible third cargo containing rockets for arming the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The U.N. Security Council imposed its first sanctions on Iran in December 2006. Since then, Iran has continued to enrich uranium, despite increasing international pressure.
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
According to a panel of sanctions-monitoring experts to the Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee, Iran has circumvented sanctions by routinely changing the names, ownership, and flags of seafaring vessels, as well as using front companies, falsifying documents, and obtaining contraband through Iranian nationals around the world, as well as utilizing money transfer businesses to keep business up to speed.
Israel and the United States have made frequent allusions to the possibility of military response to Iran’s refusal to halt its nuclear program. In a closed meeting on Tuesday, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said the United States has prepared and tested military methods to attack Iran, if it should become necessary to employ that option.